PUP’s Stefan Babcock: The 10 songs that changed my life

PUP frontman Stefan Babcock on Meat Loaf, Modest Mouse, ABBA and more...

PUP’s Stefan Babcock: The 10 songs that changed my life
Mischa Pearlman
Denise Pedicillo

He swears a lot and isn’t shy of saying if something sucks – even his own music – but he’s an all-round dude. It’s PUP frontman Stefan Babcock.

The first song that I remember hearing...Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1977)

“My parents aren’t huge music fans, but my dad had this record. It was one of maybe six albums he used to play all the time. I must have been hearing it from the time I was a baby, but the first time I can really recall hearing it was when I was five years old during Thanksgiving.”

The song that reminds me of my childhood...ABBA – Dancing Queen (1976)

“I didn’t properly start learning about music until I was 13. My mom is completely tone deaf, but she used to run around singing this, and I loved the song as a kid. I don’t now, but it has a soft spot in my heart.”

The first song that I learned to play...America – A Horse With No Name (1971)

“I actually think this song fucking sucks, but it’s a two chord thing and both chords only require two fingers to play them, so it’s probably the simplest song anyone could ever play on guitar. When I picked up a guitar for the first time, my good friend Ian – who doesn’t even play guitar, but knows how to play this – showed me those two chords, and that’s kind of how it all started for me.”

The song that made me want to be in a band...Car – Built To Spill (1994)

“This is probably my favourite song in the entire world. And I think the reason it really made me want to be in a band is because up until I heard the album, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, I’d mostly been exposed to pretty polished music, so I felt far removed from being able to play anything like that. But this record is a rough recording. You can hear each guitar, the bass and the drums, and I could hear how a song like that might come together and how I could maybe learn to write songs like it. It seemed so real and vital to me, at least compared to all the polished shit I’d heard. So it gave me the confidence to pick up the guitar and start writing music, and try to play in a band.”

The song that soundtracked my first love...The Weakerthans – Left And Leaving (2000)

“The first girl I dated seriously, I ended up dating for over six years. When I first met her, I didn’t know how to play guitar and I didn’t really have great taste in music, but I remember before we were together I went over to her place and she played this on guitar. I’d never heard it, or heard of The Weakerthans, but she had this wonderful voice and I’m pretty sure I fell in love instantly. I was so incredibly smitten hearing her play this song, and it’s stuck with me for my entire adult life.”

My favourite song to play live...PUP – Familiar Patterns (2016)

“This certainly isn’t one of our more popular songs, but we play it at every single show because we all love playing it. I think the four of us probably go harder during this than any other song. It gets us fired up. It’s very cathartic for me – it’s a big fuck you to a bunch of people in the music industry who dicked around with our band, so it feels good to shout about that every day. This song has a sort of magic for me.”

The first song of ours I heard on the radio...PUP – Lionheart (2013)

“This was the moment I realised Canadian radio is absolute dogshit, because this song sucks! I’m embarrassed by it because the lyrics are gibberish. It’s the only song PUP have ever played that has no meaning. I hate it.”

The song that I wish I had written...Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer (1984)

“Only the original Don Henley version, though. I fucking hate The Ataris’ cover. I didn’t even know that was a cover for a long time, until I was, like, 19. It was just a song I hated and I thought it sucked. But then I heard the Don Henley original on the radio and, well, fuck, it’s a great song! I can listen to it over and over.”

The song that sums up my attitude in life...Modest Mouse – Shit Luck (1997)

“I don’t like the title or believe I’ve had shit luck. I’ve actually been incredibly lucky in my life. It’s more the lyrics that sum up how I feel: ‘This plane is definitely crashing / This boat is obviously sinking / This building’s totally burning down / And my heart has slowly dried up.’ Musically, it’s a cacophony. It sounds like falling down a set of stairs.”

The song that I’d like played at my funeral...AJJ – I Wanna Rock Out In My Dreams (2014)

“This song is funny, but the melody is sad and emotional, and it’s all of the things I feel when I think about dying. I love the idea of sad people in a room hearing ‘Sweet dick denim jacket shredding a Flying V / I want to rock out in my dreams.’

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